The two smaller me laughed a bot at that, but the
hybrid beast stood up and came up to the bar.
"That mead?" it asked in a demanding tone.
Brenton nodded trying to read the ogre.
"Pour me a stein." the brigand said, his jowls oozing
a noxious dry stench. Brenton was reminded of the smell
of a freshly dead alleycat. Brenton met the twin pools
of black with his own thin eyes.
"Do what you have to do," shot the stick "then give
me my fee and depart. I will not waste any of my best
mead on a common ruffian."
The big man almost took a step back, taken off guard
by the little twig's sudden vigilant and brave demeanor.
The pools of tar widened then, just as quick, narrowed.
The wide jowls opened as slimy green saliva spiraled
around the tusks. A low growl vibrated up, and it
suddenly smiled and turned around taking a step back
to its companions.
Brenton felt the tremors returning.
A deep, humorless gaffaw erupted from the very bowls
of the beast. It filled the tiny tavern. Brenton could
do nothing but shake. Neither of the other two men
laughed. They had both heard this sound before and
both learned not to interrupt. The smallest man reached
a finger to a scar on his left nostril, a permanent
reminder to let his master lose it for a few moments.
"My, My!" the hulk finally got out. He cut off his
spasm as apruptly as slamming a door. "The little
imp has some mighty jewels after all!"
Brenton, though shaking, impulsivly reached for a towel
and, still eyes affixed to the creature, began wiping
clean a few steins.
"Just a moment ago I could have sworn I saw a line of
piss snaking down our host's skinny leg at out entrance."
continued the man, addressing noone in particular.
"But, by all the gods that made us, and all the demons
while we're at it, try to take some of his only drinkable
liqour and he'll defend it with his life!"
He laughed agian. Some of the hanging steins shook on their
hooks above Brenton. One rattled so much, it lept
from its station and shattered on the wood floor.
Brenton tightened and dropped his towel. He turned
his head away, but found he could move no more.
The two men just stood and watched, waiting for some
sign to let them know this incident was over.
"Common?" the beast roared, his desert face now burning
red. "Common, say you?"
He lowered his one of his massive hands and bent down,
sliding from his boot a long knife. He straighted up
and locked eyes with the now paralyzed Brenton. His
raised the blade up to one of his deep pools and flicked
it toward the bar. Brenton gasped. The other two men
though standing behind their master, ducked, as if
to promp the bar-keep. The blade wisked through the air for
a moment, then slammed into the top of the wooden bar
with a thud, shaking back and forth not more than a
thumb-length from Brenton's belly.
The half-breed lept back up to the bar, as Brenton
stood, eyes fixed to the knife, and grabbed the tiny
bar-keep with huge hands. He pulled Brenton to him, his
black eyes boring into his captive. Brenton held his
breath in fear of wrenching from the smell.
"Coming from of spinless slug like yourself," bit
the creature, "your clean, smooth face, your wet, brown
hands forever smelling of honey and barely, and I am
common? My hands smell of muck and blood. My face is
etched and chissled with years of struggle and survival,
and I am common?"
He pushed Brenton away from him, with enough force to
throw the tiny man up agianst the back of the bar, sending
several bottles shattering to the floor. The ogre
moved back to his companions and with a snort brushed them aside, grabbing
on to the still squirming package in one huge hand and
dragged it around to face Brenton, who was now shaking
his head in supplication.
"Forgive... me..." was all he could blubber out.
"Common!" the beast spat agian. Little man, I have
right here." he said while reaching out with his free
hand and tightening the fingering into a fist. He
then slowly reached with that same hand towards the
bundle, now errily still in the other hand's grasp.
"No! Don't!" Brenton managed to to gurgle, still
finding himself unable to move.
The ogre ignored him and grabbed a bit of the muslin
package just above his other hand.
"No!" screamed Brenton agian. "You're just to kill
But it was too late.
"Say a good-day to an old friend, Pratt."
The beast addressed to the bundle as he ripped a
chunk of cloth from the package. Out popped a tattered
bush of long red hair attop a pale, youthful face.
Sapphire like eyes jetted back and forth about the
room, then landed on Brenton, who was still shaking
"This was not part of the deal, Omfort!" the bar-keep
hollared. "You are just to kill him."
"Kill...." swallowed the boy. "Brenton, what is going
on? I thought we were friends!"
The beast slammed a fist down onto the boy's temple
sending him rolling into the other two men.
"Hold him!" he barked.
Brenton found enough courage to move out from behind the
bar, but that is as far as his wits could take him.
"Omfort, now he knows!" he said.
"Knows what?" the beast asked, mockingly calm.
"Knows who... who did it! You fool... you've damned
"How do you mean, Brenton? Soon he will be dead, and
all this will be over."
A moan curled up from the boy, now trying in vain to
free himself from the grasps of the two brigands.
"Brenton, say this is not so!" he pleaded.
"Ah, but it is, Pratt, my boy." the ogre chided.
"Just kill him and have it done. Or else..."
"Else what, Brenton?" inquired the beast.
"He's Pratt!" shook the bar-keep.
"Yes, I know." answered the ogre.
"The Cat!" Brenton whispered harshly.
"I've heard the tales." said Omfort, supressing a yawn.
"Then you know!"
"That... that he has more than one life!"
"Really?" said Omfort, eyes wide in mock surprise.
He turned back to his men, all half-smilling. "Is that
what you heard?" He turned back to Brenton and stepped up to
him, narrowing down to push his own vile face into the
bar-keep's. "And you believed these tales?" He reached
to his belt and undid a large heavy pouch. He held it
before Brenton then let it drop to the floor. A familiar
rattle of coins chinked. Brenton bent down to grab it.
"And you call me common?" finished the beast. He turned
back to his men.
"Bring the little rough up to the bar. We'll do it
He moved to the bar as the men picked up the boy, now
screaming and kicking, and yanked his knife from the
boards. "And keep him quiet!" he demanded.